While it's not secret that neither myself nor Mr Ennis are particularly religious, we do really appreciate the multitude of global religions and often visit places of worship all over the world.
Toledo has a fascinating (yet dark) history like many in Europe, yet a unique fact about Toledo is that it is known as 'The City of Three Cultures' representing Christianity, Islam and Jewish influences. Plus the Roman history which predates all three.
It is believed that people of the Jewish faith and Islamic faith both lived in harmony for the most part for many years. The Roman Catholics came into the city and like many other European cities mass persecuted those of the Jewish and Islamic faith. This is very simplified as their history dates back to BC, but essentially what it means is that there is a hodge podge of Synogagues, Mosques and Catholic Churches in the town which is what we spent the day exploring. You will note that despite the long history of Muslim/Moorish rule, not many original buildings still exist after the Christians came in.
El Entierro del Senor de Orgaz which holds another El Greco original -- his most famous artwork The Burial of the Count of Orgaz.
Iglesia del Salvador. This is a Catholic church that has been excavating, and we were able to walk through the archaeology site. I always wanted to be an archaelogist when I grow up, so that was pretty cool to see. They actually uncovered grave sites and bones of those buried.
Iglesia de los Jesuitas. The church was pretty inside, but the highlight is that we could climb the bell towers giving us a view from the top.
Real Colegio Doncellas Nobles. While not a really exciting building, this was a formers girls school built in the 1500s which is pretty cool considering in those days most discouraged girls even going to school. The pope visited this school and left a signed picture of himself, and the confessional area was different than what I've seen before in Catholic churches with the bishop sitting in the front and the confessor (confessee??) in a different room all together talking through the wall.
San Juan de los Reyes. This is my favorite Christian stop, because it has a fully intact double cloister. The wood carved ceilings were beautifully coupled with the arches of the cloister.
Cristo de la Luz. This was a former 10th century Mosque which was converted into a Christian worship place. It's difficult for me to call it a church as it doesn't fit the standard definition. You can still see the Muslim influence on the building, especially in the front -- Islamic influence has arches, but not quite as designed as when the Christians built on top of the existing pieces.
Sinagoga del Transito. This is a Jewish synagogue that was stripped and converted into a Christian worship place in 1492 when the Jewish expulsion occurred. Hebrew wording was removed and the terracing was broken down. In the early 1900s it was deemed a historical landmark and restorations were put in place to replace the wording and fix the terracing and broken Torah. I really liked that they had displayed pictures of what the Synagogue looked like before the expulsion and then afterwards -- to show the differences and also help them rebuild.
Sinagoga de Santa Maria la Blanca. This is my favorite landmark of the day -- it's beauty is beyond compare to all the others and the pictures just don't do it justice. Plus it is a perfect representation of religious cultures living side by side at peace. The synogogue was built under Christian rule by Islamic architects for Jewish use, and is thought to be the oldest standing Jewish faith building in Europe (built in the early 1100s). Unfortunately the peace did not last as during the Jewish expulsion in the 15th century, the Catholic Church appropriated the synagogue and converted it until the mid 1800s when it was deemed a historic landmark. However it is still owned and operated by the Catholic Church -- not used a place of worship, which is a shame, because it is truly beautiful.
Phew, that sure was a lot, eh? We were worn out and needed to recharge, so we grabbed some food to eat in the park before the stores closed for siesta. Then during siesta, we wandered over the San Martin Bridge and up to the Mirador del Valle which was a lookout spot on the outside of the city looking in. There is an official Don Quixote route that he made in the book and we walked passed one of the spots which was cool, and then I made friends with a lizard. I was just sitting on the edge of the wall with him -- then someone would walk by and scare him away -- gone just a minute or so before he poked his head back over the wall and came to hang back out.
We ended our day at a pizza joint that was indoors since the clouds were looking ugly and we wandered home in the rain. Considering we thought we would have rain all week, we are happy to report that was our first touch of rain the entire trip. We say goodbye to Toledo tomorrow and head to Madrid.